Sunday 28 October 2018

Don't worry, it's only poetry, it's all poetry

While I'm letting the ink dry on this verse,
come sit with me a minute. Nothing worse
than being forced to face an abstruse rondeau 
when you are not in the mood for those words.
So I won't recite anything to you.
Just rest yourself, do what you want to do -
feel, listen to this silence between us
because, after all, that's poetry too.

Yesterday was the local Poetry Festival - The Colours of Life. I was there with two of my poems. This is a yearly highlight for the Bahrain Second Circle poets, an evening of fun, sharing poetry that's sometimes serious and at others lighthearted. Smug as a bug in a rug - the final time this year methinks...or maybe not quite final...

November is the Writer's Retreat for NaNo, I don't do NaNo, but I go along for the retreat each year and get a short or some poetry out of it...inspirational to be in the same space as a bunch of dedicated writers at their craft. There's usually wine and bottomless coffee...a balcony with a seaview...a 5 star sunset...what else does a poet need?

Monday 22 October 2018

On happening to watch video instructions on hairstyles irrelevant to the present situation

A Youtube clip on how to do a French twist -
I don't know why I watched it - my hair's cropped
for years now. No long plaits twirled around my wrist
into updos, no chignons, all pins dropped.
And neither the length nor the weight is missed,
the mess of herbs and rinses - all that's stopped.
Not a Samson nor, I think, a narcissist 
whose strength or beauty lay in hair that was chopped.

Yet I watch women twirl young hair into buns
without quite knowing why, and I reminisce 
minor things - lost barrettes in faux tortoiseshell.
Sundays stacked with a certain shampoo-smell.
Undoing, loosening it all, oh the bliss -
tugging it free, finally, when the day was done.

Writing it as it comes and still on target with the title-heavy teeny-tiny though I've no idea where that came from. Is it just me? Or does anyone else watch/read instructions for things they know they'll never have the least urge to do? Hairstyles, recipes, skydiving? :) 

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Write..Edit...Publish...October 2018 : Deja Vu or Voodoo

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven...

Time for the funnest  Write...Edit...Publish... post of the year! Also, time for the autumn festival season in India, the Navaratri-Durga Puja-Diwali month, am plonk in the middle of right now in fact, with a very special house guest visiting from Kolkata, so a little taken up with happy stuff offline... but I'll be around to read as and when...

A time to get, and a time to lose...A time to weep, and a time to laugh...

This month it's also time to say goodbye to Yolanda Renee...she has co-hosted WEP for years and I have known her since the RFW days, that's more than 6 years. So this is going to feel a little strange. Thank you for all the work and all the brilliant entries and above all, your friendship and support, Renee! I wish you all the very best for your future writing projects and hope that you'll pop into WEP with one of your done-to-a-turn flashes every challenge month, or at least as often as you can. 

Here's my entry for the Challenge -

The preference for sons

This move sucks. Big time. Even Tofu – that’s my dog, hates it. But grown-ups! They must pretend. Some crazy idea to always say it the way it should be. Everyone’s pretending they’ve been waiting to come here like, forever.

I keep hearing that our people prefer sons. Complete bullshit, man. The minute my sister gets into NUJS, the entire family comes trooping here. Why? Because her fastidious highness can’t stay PG like the rest of the world. Can’t put up with the public at the hostel. The mattress isn’t thick enough for the princess, you see. I said it over and over again. I didn’t. Want. To move. Did anyone pay any attention? So, who’s got the preference? Sons, indeed!

And my school sucks too. Except Vishal. He’s in my music class. But for the rest – oh, god. Unbelievable. No pool. The field’s half the size. The buildings are so old. Probably built when the Brits were here or something. The whole freaking city looks like it’s a smelly leftover from the Raj.

Vishal’s okay though. Magic fingers. Can work up a wicked drut. Vishal’s the one who told me about the house. Apparently, some batty lady stuck a knife into her husband here. Because she thought he was going to kill her. So she pre-empted him. Some garbled logic! – a heart transplant had apparently made him homicidal. She died too, in the end. In some asylum.

The heirs pulled the original house down and rebuilt. But they both haunt the place still. The husband and wife, I mean. That’s what Vishal said. I’m not scared of ghosts, I told him. They don’t exist anyways. Just superstitions.

I mentioned the story to Thamuli. She read me a lecture. It’s gossip. Poor taste to repeat it. Besides, don’t they teach me science at school? There are no ghosts. Why was I out to make everybody unsettled? Didn’t I want my sister to be successful? This is our home now, we can’t move back. Blah blah blah. Unbelievable.
Nothing computes, man. You’d have thought she’d pay attention, being so old and into antiques. Into all these rituals. She’s always fasting or rushing off to some shrine or other. Oh, no. Can’t bear to have anything said against the move. Or against her highness, her precious granddaughter - the one responsible for this whole mess.

Okay, let me tell you the whole - there’s this old, stained rug next to my bed. I don’t know where it’s come from, it’s always been there in my room. Thamuli must have got it sometime, she’s heavily into picking up tattered, second-hand things for their ‘history.’ I don’t care much for that piece of junk. Would have gladly left it back. But the packers rolled it up along with the bedding. And it was back in my room after the move. I mean, it wasn’t a big deal either way, you know?

Anyways, there’s this patchy mark right in the middle of it. A few days after Vishal spilled the story, I got up in the morning. The stain looked vaguely darker. But there was no time to check properly. And I forgot all about it at lessons. It was still there once I got back. So I looked closer. It did feel darker. I thought it was a mistake at first, eyes playing tricks. And after my last session with Thamuli, I wasn’t saying anything to anyone.

But the next Sunday when I got up, it was much darker again. And damp this time. I touched it and my fingers came away wet and smeared with weird, brownish stuff. A bit like, you know, blood.

I wasn’t scared or anything. I just mentioned it at breakfast.  Casually, like. Not to create any drama or put anybody off their food. Thamuli was there, my father, mother, her highness herself was sitting right next to me. They just laughed. Said my friend had been filling my ears. Because he was jealous or something. So Thamuli had mentioned the story to others. Talk about not repeating gossip. And why on earth would Vishal be jealous? He’s much better than me at any percussion you can dream of. Unbelievable. Grownups make no sense. I told them they could check if they liked.

But it wasn’t wet when we went back. They laughed all the harder. Ma was the only one who didn’t laugh. But was that because she believed me? No freaking way. She stayed back and read me the same lecture as Thamuli had a few days back. That I mustn’t try to make up stories. I must try and think of this place as home and so on till my ears nearly fell off my head.

The next time it happened, I didn’t wait. I got the stuff on my hands and went straightaway. That would show them. This time no one laughed. Not that they believed me either. Her highness said it looked like Cherry Blossom. That was it. They were convinced I had slathered shoe polish on the rug. To scare them into moving back. Of all the insane ideas! I got a serious grilling from my father. No music for a week. Ma put on her stern face every time she had to speak to me. Even Thamuli went around with a pained expression. Unbelievable.

So that’s it. I’ve stopped talking about it to my folks. The stain keeps filling up with blood or whatever it is, every few days. I’m not scared, I tell you. It’s just super-annoying no one believes me. So much for the preference for sons. I just wish I could go back. Like I said, this move totally sucks.

WC - 950

PG – Paying guest
NUJS – National University of Juridical Sciences
Drut – u as in put, lit ‘fast,’ a qualifier of tempo and rhythm in Indian classical music.

This is the epilogue of the same story I posted for the August WEP challenge. First developed for Moving the Margins, a MOOC at Uni Iowa this summer. 

Read the other entries here:

Sunday 7 October 2018

Always more than the sum of its pieces

A glass breaks, snaps in pieces just like that
and brings back the distant space it was bought -
memory and wistfulness in the format
of a raw, jagged rim. A morning caught

between the smells of the dust and diesel,
between the crosshatches marked on the road;
the mood chasing its own tail like a mongrel,
the vendors already in touristy mode.

The traffic in the cloak of peak hour rush,
the more the haste the more viscous its gait -
the whole day an indeterminate slush
of bleached sky and earth in a grudging wait.

Now that the glass's broken it's got the sheen
of a greater truth, more than what glass should mean.

Tomorrow marks the start of the Indian autumn festival season - the Navaratri or nine nights culminating a month later on Diwali, the festival of lights. I have family visiting from India during the Durgapuja (yay!) - so I'm going to be a little occupied with stuff offline, but will be there for the WEP October Spookfest. Online and off, it's going to be a megablast!